Posts Tagged ‘lxml’

compile lxml on Ubuntu 16.04

August 4, 2016 Leave a comment

lxml doesn’t want to compile on Ubuntu 16.04.


$ sudo apt install libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev python-dev zlib1g-dev

I was getting the error “/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lz“. It turned out that the package zlib1g-dev was the cure…

Note that this is for Python 2. For Python 3 you might need to install the package python3-dev.

Categories: python, ubuntu Tags: ,

Read XML painlessly

October 30, 2011 3 comments

I had an XML file (an RSS feed) from which I wanted to extract some data. I tried some XML libraries but I didn’t like any of them. Is there a simple, brain-friendly way for this? After all, it’s Python, so everything should be simple.

Yes, there is a simple library for reading XML called “untangle“, developed by Chris Stefanescu. It’s in PyPI, so installation is very easy:

sudo pip install untangle

For some examples, visit the project page.

Use Case
Let’s see a simple, real-world example. From the RSS feed of Planet Python, let’s extract the post titles and their URLs.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import untangle

#XML = 'examples/planet_python.xml'     # can read a file too
XML = ''

o = untangle.parse(XML)
for item in
    title = item.title.cdata
    link =
    if link:
        print title
        print '   ', link

It couldn’t be any simpler :)

According to Chris, untangle doesn’t support documents with namespaces (yet).

Related posts

Alternatives (update 20111031)
Here are some alternatives (thanks reddit).

lxml and amara are heavyweight solutions and are built upon C libraries so you may not be able to use them everywhere. untangle is a lightweight parser that can be a perfect choice to read a small and simple XML file.

Categories: python Tags: , , , , ,

Write XML to file

April 4, 2011 2 comments


I wanted to create an XML file. The file was simple but I wanted to avoid producing it with “print” commands. Which API should be used for this purpose? The produced XML should be human readable, i.e. pretty printed (indented).


This post is based on the thread Best XML writing tool for Python.

(1) elementtree.SimpleXMLWriter (no indenting)

The SimpleXMLWriter module contains a simple helper class for applications that need to generate well-formed XML data. The interface is very simple:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from elementtree.SimpleXMLWriter import XMLWriter
import sys

w = XMLWriter(sys.stdout)
html = w.start("html")

w.element("title", "my document")
w.element("meta", name="generator", value="my application 1.0")

w.element("h1", "this is a heading")
w.element("p", "this is a paragraph")

w.start("p")"this is ")
w.element("b", "bold")" and ")
w.element("i", "italic")".")


However, the output is not indented and as I saw, this feature is missing :( Here is the output of the code above:

<html><head><title>my document</title><meta name="generator" value="my application 1.0" /></head><body><h1>this is a heading</h1><p>this is a paragraph</p><p>this is <b>bold</b> and <i>italic</i>.</p></body></html>

If we prettify it, it will look like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
    <title>my document</title>
    <meta name="generator" value="my application 1.0"/>
    <h1>this is a heading</h1>
    <p>this is a paragraph</p>
    <p>this is <b>bold</b> and <i>italic</i>.</p>

You can install elementtree from PyPI.

(2) lxml.etree (can do indenting)

This is what I chose for my project. This API is also very easy to use and it can do indenting. Documentation is here.


#!/usr/bin/env python

from lxml import etree as ET

root = ET.Element('background')
starttime = ET.SubElement(root, 'starttime')
hour = ET.SubElement(starttime, 'hour')
hour.text = '00'
minute = ET.SubElement(starttime, 'minute')
minute.text = '00'
second = ET.SubElement(starttime, 'second')
second.text = '01'

print ET.tostring(root, pretty_print=True, xml_declaration=True)
# write to file:
# tree = ET.ElementTree(root)
# tree.write('output.xml', pretty_print=True, xml_declaration=True)


<?xml version='1.0' encoding='ASCII'?>

On PyPI, you can find lxml here. However, you will have to install some additional packages too:

sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev
sudo apt-get install libxslt-dev
# until Ubuntu 10.10:
sudo apt-get install python2.6-dev
# from Ubuntu 11.04:
sudo apt-get install python2.7-dev
# under Ubuntu 14.04 I needed this too:
sudo apt-get install -y zlib1g-dev

Then, you can install the library with “sudo pip install lxml“.


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